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Marsh Fire Recovery-Mentor, Ohio

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  • Marsh Fire Recovery-Mentor, Ohio

    MENTOR, Ohio (AP) - Nature is making a quick comeback at a marsh
    half destroyed by fire one month ago.
    Stephanie Gall, a Cleveland State University doctoral student,
    has sampled insects at the 400-acre burned out Mentor Marsh area
    and said they are bouncing back and the swamp grass is growing
    fast.
    "It's really looking pretty good over here," she said.
    Hundreds of firefighters from nearly 40 communities fought the
    fire. The flames stretched 30 to 40 feet high and black smoke could
    be seen for 20 miles.
    Investigators said the fire started near a boardwalk area.
    Mentor police believe the fire was set, either intentionally or
    accidentally.
    The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which along with the
    Ohio Department of Natural Resources owns much of the marsh, has
    offered a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest.
    Fresh Phragmites, or grasses, are already several feet high on
    the burned-out west end of the marsh.
    Gall, 28, of Brunswick, is using the marsh as a field study for
    the behavior of insects such as mosquitoes, midges and dragonflies
    - some living in unchanged surroundings untouched by the fire, and
    others that survived the scorched habitat of the eastern end.
    "We want to know what happens to the other populations when the
    marsh burns down," she said.
    Gall started her study about a week after the fire and will
    continue through this fall and maybe into next spring.
    The state nature preserve makes up 666 acres of the 800-acre
    marsh, which two millennia ago was the bed of the Grand River, said
    Marsh area naturalist Barb Kooser.
    Kooser recently was giving sixth-graders from nearby Sterling
    Morton Elementary School a lecture on the history and importance of
    the marsh before they took a tour of the area.
    She showed off plants such as the dogwood, trillium, milkweed,
    button bush and the New England aster.
    The area is also home to fox, raccoons, skunks, snakes, turtles,
    snakes, salamanders, beavers, muskrats, weasels, bats and possibly
    a black bear or two.
    Dozens of species of birds including the little blackcap
    chickadee and the great blue heron also fill the ecosystem.
    The marsh's dominant Phragmites, native to Asia, moved in about
    40 years ago after a brine well leak from nearby salt mines killed
    most of the native swamp vegetation. Phragmites survived because it
    can tolerate salt water and thrived because it shades out other
    plants.
    The true marsh - pre-1960s swampland with trees and native
    plants - was trying a comeback on the southern rim of the marsh,
    naturalists said. But the fire consumed many of the saplings at the
    leading edge, leaving the Phragmites again in charge, its 15-foot
    deep roots unscathed by fire.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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